If you’ve ever feared getting old, just take one look at Instagram sensation Baddie Winkle’s feed. The 87-year-old great grandmother proves that being a rebel doesn’t have to have an expiration date. The face of LA Clothing label Dimepiece loves to get down to rap, champion marijuana, hang with celebrities, and play pong at college frat parties. You’ll catch her in crochet bikinis, 12-inch platforms, and bathing suits that say ‘You are my champagne, my Papi, my Drake.” Drake by the way is just one of Winkle’s celebrity followers, in line with Rihanna, Beyoncé, Nicole Richie, and Miley Cyrus (who has called her “a bad a$$ role model for all of us!!!!!!” That celebrity fandom (and her one million plus Instagram followers) are just a couple of the reasons why Winkle is making her debut at the 2015 MTV Video Music Awards red carpet this Sunday.
Baddie Winkle is the social media alter-ego of Helen Van Winkle, cooked up by her and her grandkids over a year ago. It started when her great granddaughter Kennedy posted a pic of her wearing the teen’s clothes (a tie-dye shirt and jean cutoffs). It went viral, and Baddie Winkle was born. Her tagline? “Stealing your man since 1928.” While Baddie Winkle has clearly been a source of pure fun for the fierce grandma, it’s also been an unexpected source of healing since her husband died. Her hope is to inspire people to have more fun. “I try to have fun everyday,” Winkle tells Yahoo Beauty. “You’re just here one time so you might as well get all you can out of it.”
Sara Bliss: So you are going to be at the VMAs this weekend! That Miley promo with the two of you is hilarious, what are your plans?
Baddie Winkle: I’m supposed to walk the red carpet. I’ve been invited to the MTV party on Saturday night, and then I don’t have any idea what I’m doing!
Why do you think Miley is such a big fan of yours?
I think she would like to be like me when she gets older — able to perform and sing. I think that’s why she’s such a big fan of mine.
Like Miley, you’re also definitely a rebel.
I am. I always have been, and I guess I still am. Someone says I can’t do that and I say, “Well I can do that and I did!”
Speaking of being a rebel. What’s with all the pot? Why is that such a big theme of your Instagram?
I am for legalizing marijuana. I always have been, and I always will be. I am for medicinal marijuana, but I do not smoke marijuana. Never have and never will.
Why are you against smoking it, but for legalizing it?
I see so many kids getting picked up and put in jail. That’s why I think it should be legalized. They’re just young kids and, they get caught with marijuana and it’s not legal in the states that they live in, and it’s not good to be put in jail as a young kid.
I’ve heard that you now get paid to make appearances on the college frat party circuit.
Yes, I do that! Those college kids are absolutely wonderful. Mostly I go to meet-and-greets, and they all come up and want pictures. They’re very polite and they don’t get out of hand.
Now that you’re single and famous, have you met anyone new?
I don’t have any boyfriend right now. I’ve been there and done that. Men my age, are….they’re ready for the grave. They really are! They have all these aches and pains!
You do seem to have such a different perspective than other people your age. What do your friends think of your Baddiwinkle persona?
I have some amazing friends. They all support me. They think I am kind of crazy! But they all love me. They think its great that I’m doing this at this age.
What’s your philosophy on aging?
I can’t say anything good about aging! I think it’s terrible! I don’t know how people my age are supposed to feel, because I don’t feel old. I know that I am, but I don’t feel that way.
You do make it look really fun.
I try to have fun everyday. Because you’re just here one time so you might as well get all you can out of it.
You recently posted a picture of you and Nicole Richie on a motorcycle. What was happening there?
We did a little video together for her show. And she is precious. We had a lot of fun. I wasn’t really catching a ride on a motorcycle — although I have been on a motorcycle in my early days.
You both have very individual takes on style. How would you describe yours?
I wear very cheap clothes! I’m not like these other women. I dress in what looks good on me.
You also said you love drugstore beauty finds, what are your favorites?
You have over a million followers, but what’s your goal in all this? What do you want to get out of being Baddie Winkle?
I want to do a lot on TV. I want to do advertisements. I want to reach out to older people to kind of inspire them to get out and do things that they don’t do but they might think are fun.
What’s been the craziest experience you’ve had since you became social media famous?
I went to Las Vegas for the Electric Daisy Carnival and had a wonderful time. I was on stage! I got to take a helicopter ride all through Vegas and it was so large and beautiful.
Have you always been all about having fun?
I haven’t always been. When I lost my husband and my son, I was not optimistic. I was very sad and very down and it took me a long time to get over it. But this has helped a lot. I said, ‘I have to move on’ and this has helped me. I’ve just been moving on with it, and I enjoy it.